Bamboo, Takoyaki and a very impressive Shinto Shrine

Sunday, 20 November 2016

On Wednesday myself and Craig decided to take the train into Kyoto (about a 40 minute trip from where we are living in Otsu). Now, I was super excited to see Kyoto as when researching Japan it looked so pretty! Famous for its baby pink cherry blossoms in the Spring time and gloriously golden and bright red trees in the Autumm I was looking forward to wandering around and soaking up the scenery. Unfortunately, just as we had been warned by other fellow travellers, Kyoto was sooooo busy - to the point where it was difficult to move. We picked a weekday to visit to try and avoid the crowds and were convinced it must of been a Japanese holiday, alas it wasn't. Waddling like penguins we made it through the crowds and into the amazing bamboo forest - which was sadly just as packed. With this said the bamboo forest was really cool and it was quite overwhelming to be amongst it all.

We didn't stay for long and hurried out the crowds to grab some lunch. We had our new favourite Japanese discovery - Takoyaki. They are little round balls of batter filled with octopus, tempura, green pickles and spring onions, topped with a sweet sticky sauce, mayonnaise and more spring onion - so delicious (see picture below)!

After devouring our body weight in takoyaki, and these little fish shaped chocolate waffles (don't ask), we went to check out the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine. I reckon this shrine is probably the most famous with tourists and even before looking into Japan I was aware of the thousands of bright orange torii gates that everyone stood and had their photo with. However just seeing pictures really doesn't do this place justice. When approaching the entrance to the shrine you are faced with the most extravagant and lavish shrine buildings - the gold and orange colours look incredible against a bright blue sky (which we were lucky enough to have). I must also add that there were loads of great looking, and smelling, street food vendors just before entering - unfortunately we had already eaten. You are then faced with the torii shrine gates, and the sheer number of them is quite astounding. We started following the crowds through the gates, following the trail and gradually the crowds got less and less as the trail soon turned into a hike (oh no). Climbing up what felt like a billion steps and walking through, what felt like, a million torii gates we finally made it a third of the way up, to the viewing point, where we were able to look over Kyoto as the sun was setting, stunning. We then continued the hike up Mount Inari, where two guys wished us luck and smirked, great. After a lot of huffing and puffing we reached the summit at 233 meters, and although the views weren't half as good as the viewing point a third of the way up, it was pretty cool to have finished it without dying!

After a gentle stroll back to the station via Gion, where we tried to spot some Geisha girls (sadly no luck) we then proceeded on our journey home. We will be back in Kyoto again tomorrow to check out a few other things before leaving for Osaka on Thursday, will be sure to write a post on our adventures.

Elly x 

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